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Greek Foreign Minister sees Cyprus solution ''very soon''
2003-01-30 10:05:49

Greek Foreign Minister sees Cyprus solution ''very soon'' Nicosia, Jan 30 (CNA) -- Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou believes that a political settlement in Cyprus can be achieved ''very soon'' if the political will exists, adding that it remains to be seen whether this will is evident in the Turkish side.

The minister questions claims by Ankara that Cyprus is of paramount importance to Turkey for its security and said the issue of security will be discussed at his meetings today and tomorrow with the Turkish government in the context of a UN peace plan, which is negotiated by the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot sides.

''I believe we can settle the Cyprus problem. We are very close, but political resolve is needed. If this resolve is there, this region will become a region of stability and Turkish Cypriot will also join the EU,'' he said.

A solution in Cyprus will serve everybody's interests and strengthen even more Turkey's European course, he said, adding that the Iraqi crisis stresses the need to settle problems like the question of Cyprus.|

On his contacts in Ankara, he said he would meet the President, the Prime Minister, his counterpart and Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the ruling Justice and Development party to discuss Cyprus, Turkey's accession partnership and other related issues.

Papandreou said he would also discuss the issue of security, in the context of the UN plan on a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, which invited Athens and Ankara to agree on the number of troops they will have stationed on the island after a solution.

''A deal on this specific issue would be a very important development and to a certain degree this issue is somehow autonomous in that it concerns our two countries, within the framework of the UN plan,'' the minister added.

Papandreou said he was not quite sure what Turkish government officials mean when they repeatedly say that Cyprus is extremely important for their country's security.

''I wonder where is the threat, why does Cyprus pose a security issue for Turkey. I have often said that both Greece and Turkey have made mistakes with regard to Cyprus so let go off Cyprus, let it be free and we should just be there to support the Cypriots,'' he said.

Asked if there is political will in Turkey for a settlement, he said ''this will emerge in practice'' but pointed out that the opportunity that exists now for a solution should not be missed.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 per cent of its territory.
CNA MM/GP/2003

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